I think there's roughly two good strategies for having conversations with people.
The first is actually speaking your mind freely once you get to know someone even a bit, including all the politically incorrect things.
As a somewhat tame example, I think the British Empire did more good than any other nation in history and was overwhelmingly a force for good in humanity. However, people mostly hear about their bad deeds, but don't hear about all the suicide cults, assassin's organizations, human sacrificing religions, and so on, and so on, that they ended. People also take for granted all the hygiene, infrastructure, rule of law, scientific method, and so on that they propagated.
I'll point this out, even though it upsets some people. It's honest and not politically correct (but true!).
There's another strategy, which is to suss out what the person you're speaking to thinks, and try to converse on common ground and without being offensive. Done correctly, this actually means being liked by a wider group of people and not offending as many people... and this isn't so bad, really. Most people will lionize speaking up in theory, but react really hostile in practice if you say, for instance, that you think universal suffrage is a terrible way to choose a government.
Question from a reader -
I have fallen in love with your blog and will be visiting regularly! Thanks for the incredible content. I just finished your blog titled “the evolution of my time/life/habit tracking” and it is awesome!
I consider myself one hell of a problem solver and I am very driven at times but I often find myself being held back by a number of things including financial stress, fear, and alcohol. None of the things I just listed have such a tight grip that I am losing my mind or anything but they do have enough of an impact on my life that I am well aware of how much they are holding me back from my potential. I probably spend 3 to 5 days a week on top of the world, kicking ass tacking names and getting shit done and 3 to 5 days a week being unproductive, stressed out and procrastinating.
I am well aware of the changes that I need to make and I am making them slowly but surely. Don’t get me wrong I am making progress, lots of it, but I am also impatient and that impatience makes it harder for me to accept the fact that getting to where I want to be is going to take a little longer than I would like.
I love this comment by Michael Edge on the post "Junk Food Tastes Good, Eh?"
This is a very interesting problem that frequently crosses my thoughts. The growing discrepancy between the modern civilized environment and the human animal little changed in fifty thousand years.
Short of using genetic engineering to realign our bodies with our newly created environment, there isn’t much we can do physically – biological evolution is too slow a process. Our bodies need to be physically active, yet our society no longer requires us to be. Often we have to go out of our way to be active. Bad food tastes better than good food, since in developed countries at least, food is plentiful. Eating your fill of high energy density food is now a very bad thing to do, since you can now do that multiple times every day.
If physical evolution isn’t an option, then mental adaptation is the only real alternative. Our minds have to be trained to be aware of our bodies limitations. I think that willpower is the dominant trait possessed by those who best adapt to modern society. You have to be willing to force your body to act against it’s instincts.
AJ Kessler is an extremely talented guy with lots of great insights on art, business, philosophy, and life. He's an excellent photographer, and he was kind enough to write a post on creativity for us. I'm pleased to bring it you. Here's AJ -
"I'm just not a creative person."
I hear that all the time. It's complete bullshit.
If you've never created something, or done something you'd describe as creative, you may lack awareness or curiosity (two conditions which are easily fixed with minimal effort), but that doesn't mean you're not creative.
Anyone can be creative. Even kids are creative, and kids don't know anything. That's the secret though: they're creative because they don't know anything. They don't know how things work and they don't know what the outcome is supposed to be. So they ask questions, they try things, they experiment, they break things. If the end result looks good to them, they're done.
I ate a blueberry scone today. I normally don't eat sweets, but I've been walking about 5 hours a day seeing sights and temples, and I realized I was only eating like 1800 calories. So, that ain't good. The only high calorie item at Starbucks, so I got the scone. It tasted great.
And I thought about it. Why does the scone taste great, when healthier stuff doesn't?
Answer: Because our taste buds don't suit us well in the modern day. The reason junk food tastes good is because it was advantageous in the past. Sweet things, high density carbs, and fats were really efficient for surviving and not poisonous back then.
But now, they're not the best way. The taste buds evolved to help us survive, but now they're kind of not helping. It's like a broken speedometer in a car. Foods are supposed to taste good to let you know that they're safe and beneficial to eat. But now, we don't get poisoned from toxic plants... we get poisoned from too much refined sugar with diabetes and obesity and such.
It'd be like if you were watching the speedometer in the car and it said "65" on the freeway, but you were going 110 in reality. Eating off what your taste buds tell you is bad for your survival now.
Got a long email from a reader with some great questions - he's a very impressive dude, but he has a hard time sticking with something for more than 1.5 to 3 years. If you have this trait as well, you might want to pay close attention to this post
And I have a real problem "falling in line" with the rest of society in a stable, consistent and "normal" life. I just feel like it's not me.
Yup, I know exactly how you feel. I've been in similar places. So have a lot of my friends. Some thoughts -
What I see as a recurring theme in my jump from job to job and industry to industry is my utter lack of real fulfillment. Don't get me wrong, I do have a temporary sense of fulfillment and meaning with the careers I have pursued, they just don't seem to last. Once I have focus on what it is that I want to do I am relentless in achieving it. For instance, after 3 years in the --- industry I have acquired the knowledge that many people don't achieve until 10, 12 or even 15 years in the industry. However, that life-cycle tends to be around 18-months, where I then become unfulfilled by the rate of learning and progress I am making. This ultimately leads to erratic behavior within the succeeding months and a feeling that I need to drop what I'm doing and move onto something else - whether that be a new job or a new career altogether.
Google the term "rage to master" - click around, read some summaries, and then check out a couple academic papers. It will be very worth your time.
3 dollars a day is $1,000 per year.
Actually, it's a little more than that.
$2.74 is $1,000 per year.
But call it $3, since it's easy to remember.
This is where small numbers add up.
From Jay Abraham's "Getting Everything You Can Out Of All You've Got," which is quite good and full of stories like this -
Major breakthroughs come from the correct mind-set. It's an attitude-an opportunistic attitude. People who make breakthroughs are always opportunity-focused. People who don't, aren't. It's that simple.
In 1972 the Democratic convention nominated George McGovern to run for president against Richard Nixon. During the convention, Senator McGovern dumped his vice-presidential running mate, Senator Eagleton. A young, sixteenyear- old entrepreneur saw a one-time opportunity and bought up five thousand suddenly obsolete McGovern-Eagleton buttons and bumper stickers. He paid about five cents apiece for them. He soon resold them as historical and rare political memorabilia for as much as $25 per item.
This is an excellent example of an ethically opportunistic mind-set. True, the young man's one-time windfall profit did not result in a major industry breakthrough. But what is important is that he had the opportunity-focused attitude that is needed to see an opportunity where no one else did. That young man, by the way, was Bill Gates.
"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." - From Shakespere's Hamlet
That quote has been a fantastic driver of good feelings for me.
There's a pretty large category of things that are aggravating if you let them aggravate you, but not bothersome if not.
I've left Mongolia now, but my last week in town, there was some pretty serious construction going on right next to my building.
I'd be trying to grab a nap or concentrate and the BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG would continue from next door.
One of the coolest stories I got from "Call Me Ted," Ted Turner's autobiography, was about his "Beg-a-thon."
He had launched some local television channels in the South with different kinds of programming than were common for the day. He focused primarily on classic movies when most channels were going for more prime time programming. Thus, his channels got quite popular with demographics of people who didn't want the perceived sex and sleaze in normal TV (tame by today's standards, but that's the way it goes...)
What he did was have a "Beg-A-Thon" on TV, where they live requests between shows to fund the studio and keep it going. They got on local figures - the mayor, policemen, civil servants, various workers, moms, and kids - to talk about how they liked the channel to make a pledge.
Since TV was new at the time and this channel was one of people's favorites, they actually raised the $25,000 he needed to survive!
Ted kept detailed records of everyone who donated, and once the channel was profitable three years later, he paid everyone back $4 for every $3 they donated.